The monograph was promoted at an event jointly hosted by publisher ALFA, the Croatian Heritage Foundation and the author.
A promotion of the monograph Eve (1967–2017) was staged on the 13th of June at the Mimara Museum by hosts the publishing house ALFA, the Croatian Heritage Foundation and the monograph’s author Anton Cetín.
Taking part in the promotion were CHF acting director Mirjana Ana-Maria Piskulić, Branka Hlevnjak, Vladimir Peter Goss and Ivanka Reberski.
CHF acting director Piskulić opened the event citing professor Vinko Grubišić: ‘Truly, Eve is a symbol of humanity, of life, life’s answer to the endless silences of the cosmos.’ Piskulić noted that Eve is a sublimation of moments of meeting. ‘Eve, who was born, who was created and entered Cetín’s life in 1967 – since then an Eve has emerged at every confluence of energies. My acquaintance with Cetín stretches back to the early 1990s when I worked with him in the frame of our work at the Croatian Heritage Foundation, at the time of our great unity, when everything came together in the strength to defend the homeland. Cetín also made his contribution, with his benefactions contributing to the dissemination of the truth about the situation in Croatia at the time. Last year Cetín celebrated his eightieth year and five Croatian institutions were beneficiaries on the occasion of eighty donated works.’ She underlined the phenomenon of emigrant life, saying that, ‘the individual who creates in the milieu in which he was born, but does not live there, is torn to the milieu in which he find himself and he finds inspiration in the new environment – that is also something that contributes to our culture and our milieu. I value the efforts of our people coming from abroad, promoting their work in Croatia, printing their work here and leaving it as their legacy in Croatia.’
Art historian Branka Hlevnjak has been familiar with the work of Cetín for many years. She spoke of the dedication of this monograph to the Eve figure, to love at first sight. The book, she notes, is beautiful, simple, light and presented in quadratic form, with layout by Neven Osojnik under the artistic guidance of author A. Cetín. ‘Leafing through this large format, beautiful, illustrated volume, replete with broad-ranging, universal and deep messages, we find at the start a short note from the author that the Eve motif was born in Paris in 1967, in a city of free spirit and an artistic atmosphere, at a time of peace and hope for a better tomorrow, at a time when one strolled freely along the streets of Paris and when one could feel art in the air. And now, fifty years later, the author asks … leaving us with a sense of uneasiness, a question mark and three dots. With this introduction the author sets up the tome as a kind of engaged enlightenment project with a message that warns and teaches, i.e. that aims to contribute to the betterment of the world – because perhaps things are not know the way they ought to be. Beauty ennobles people, and that is quite certainly one of the guiding thoughts in Cetín’s artistic creativity. In a way, he is on a mission from Art. This book is the fruit of one such missionary undertaking over the span of fifty years. Eve is to Cetín what Beatrice is to Dante; Eve inspires him and leads him in his search for meaning. A thread runs through the book as a detail in the form of an eye, pupil or flower, in which the entire world and every single day is reflected. In Cetín’s editorial concept the fifty Eve motif paintings characteristic of his work over the past fifty years are accompanied by selected quotations that followed Cetín’s work through time and space – from Paris and Toronto to around the world. A fantastic story on the thin line separating reality and fiction. Locked in the esoteric language of Cetín’s Eve are broad expanses of the historic and mythical, the distant and obscure. Coded messages received by those open to creative and inventive pleasures. Cetín has created a book or intellectual pleasure in which the desire for meaning has become part of an exciting satisfaction. His monograph is very condensed, concise and it is only Cetín’s characteristic scrupulous attention to detail that made this objective achievable.’
Croatian returnee from the United States of America, art historian and writer Vladimir Peter Goss opened his presentation by evoking the past, returning us to the time when a major Cetín exhibition had been staged at the national archives, speaking of their continuing friendship and collaboration. In elaborating on artistic creativity Goss underlined in particular the notion of criticism, which ought to be an important and responsible activity, especially when founded in intuition and empathy. The creation of a work of art consists of three key elements – inspiration, the creative process and the work. Criticism as a process of identifying and interpreting the creative act, says Goss, is entirely meaningless. ‘The interpretation of artistic work on tangible material is the only path to identifying the spirit that makes us what we are, human beings. The editor creates at the dictate of the spirit, under commission, under his or her own sense of requirement, and we can read spirituality out of something when it is very much material and accessible to our senses. Having created the Eve figure in Paris in 1967, Cetín embarks on the fascinating route of the “industry” of form, which evokes the words of the great American art theoretician Meyer Schapiro that art, like very few other human activities, has remained in the domain of the handicraft of a single creator. From the creation of the Eve motif to the Universe Disturbed phase following the 11th of September, Cetín has “manufactured” his coherent vision of “spiritual truth”.’
Art historian Ivanka Reberski notes that the monograph is special and significant. ‘Cetín put the accent on the core theme of Eve through the years 1967 to 2017, personally selecting the works to be presented as illustrations under this title and limiting the range to a fifty year period. Cetín’s Eve is a woman with all the attributes of femininity. She is refined, suspicious, pensive, pure and blessed, black and red, indecisive, noble, considerate and mysterious, preoccupied with hopes, doubts, deliberations, absorbed with memories, appears with a bird, with a new hat and is immersed in the whirlwind of time. Cetín’s meticulously constructed composition reveals a deep affiliation with the classic tradition. We see this elementary attribute, with which one enters the world of high art, in each of the fifty paintings carefully selected by the artist for this monograph retrospective. Cetín’s entire scope of view of the world of the spiritual/emotional and rational/perception seems sublimated in his unique sense of the metaphor, with the image of Eve’s unrepeatable originality. The enigma of Cetín’s unconventional personality as an artist, his minimalist artistic fabric of vibrant and refined elocution is entirely immersed in the spirit of modernity of the era he belongs to – he long ago earned the affirmation of his universal values.’
Speaking for his part, Cetín closed saying that he fulfilled Eve’s wish on her fiftieth birthday – a gift worthy of her name. Eve will continue to be Cetín’s muse and inspiration. ‘I would like to thank all who have made this monograph possible by their understanding, goodness and generosity.’
Anton Cetín was born in the village of Bojana near Čazma, Croatia in 1936. He attended the School of Applied Arts in Zagreb before moving on to study printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He moved to Paris in 1966 and then to Canada two years later where he works as a professional painter and printmaker. He has received several awards and honours for his work. In 1995 he was decorated by the Government of Croatia with the Order of the Croatian Danica (Morning Star) with the image of Marko Marulic and the Order of the Croatian Interlace for outstanding merit in the field of culture. He has donated prints, drawings and collages to the collection of prints held by the National and Universty Library in Zagreb. A number of documentary films have been shot about his life and work. In 2001 the City of Cazma opened the Anton Cetín Gallery with a permanent exhibit of his work.
His work is fond in museums, galleries and private collections around the world.
‘Through my painting I wish to explain to myself the past, present and future – the continuity of life in fact. Eve is an inspiration and motive force that directs my creative energy to creating a world new to me, a world of the vision of my art.’ (A. Cetín)
Writing and photography by: Naida Šehović